Firsts are always a nice milestone in the hockey world. First game, first goal, first point, etc. And the higher up you go in the sport, the harder those firsts become.
It’s one thing to be a forward searching for your first goal. Maybe it comes easily, scoring into an empty net or having the puck bounce off a random body part and redirect past the goaltender. Maybe it comes during a rout when the other team has given up, or when it’s late in the game during a devastating loss and the opponents have simply stopped worrying about defending.
But to be a goalie searching for your first win, all alone between the pipes? That’s a whole ’nother challenge.
It took three tries, but Dallas Stars’ goaltending prospect Colton Point crossed a big milestone on Saturday night, securing his first professional win as the AHL’s Texas Stars toppled the Iowa Wild 3-1.
Point didn’t get a lot of help in front of him in his first two starts, and required a bit of assistance from his vertical steel friends behind him to his left and right in his third, but he nevertheless stopped 19 of 20 shots to get the W.
“Sometimes, when things are going well, they’re going well,” Point said, as reported in a recent article by the Dallas Morning News’ Matthew DeFranks. “I’ll take what I can get and just try to keep the ball rolling the next couple of games.”
It might not have been easy, but a win’s a win. The AHL is a tough league for goalies, especially ones who are as young as 20.
Point is one of the Stars’ top prospects, thanks primarily to a stellar 2017-18 year with Colgate in the NCAA, where he posted an eye-popping .944 save percentage. He signed his entry-level contract with Dallas and turned pro this summer.
Texas head coach Derek Laxdal has shown a tendency in the past to heavily rely upon the goalie he prefers and trusts the most (sometimes to a fault), so it says a lot about the rookie Point that he’s started three games this season to 23-year-old, third-year pro Landon Bow’s four.
With the hurdle of his first win behind him, Stars fans can look to more of those on the horizon for Point, one of the best net-minding prospects to come through the organization in a long, long time.
Highlights of the winning start, as well as a post-game interview are below.
As reported widely and in detail elsewhere, Denis Gurianov kept his season-opening hot streak alive over the weekend, scoring goals in his fourth and fifth straight games.
Realizing the Stars are back at home tonight is almost as awesome as Denis Gurianov’s game winning goal in Grand Rapids on Wednesday— Texas Stars (@TexasStars) October 19, 2018
Get your tickets for tonight’s game ➡️ https://t.co/dHERzFy0RW pic.twitter.com/QiVAKQiJEp
Gurianov isn’t the only Texas Stars player on a goal-scoring streak, as Joel L’Esperance extended his run to three games in a row. He’s now up to eight total points in seven games played, tops on the team, which is an incredibly pleasant surprise for the undrafted free agent signing.
Speaking of undrafted free agent signings, 20-year-old defenseman Ben Gleason had a big game on Friday night. He scored a goal and an assist and was named the game’s first star in a narrow 5-4 victory over the Iowa Wild. His goal was a thing of beauty, too, going solo and undressing an opposing defenseman before depositing the puck. Sticking with a theme, it was his first professional goal. That will be one to tell the grandkids about.
Gleason wasn’t the only Texas prospect to score his first professional goal, either. Nick Caamano’s first wasn’t as memorable, going into an empty net, but he added a second tally for good measure. Also with the team, Adam Mascherin had a goal and an assist over three games, while Tony Calderone scored his first of the season. Dillon Heatherington also picked up a couple of helpers. Gavin Bayreuther missed the week’s action and is listed as day-to-day due to an injury.
North American Juniors
Riley Tufte scored goals in both games that the University of Minnesota-Duluth played over the weekend, bringing his season totals to three goals and an assist in six games.
Defenseman Joe Cecconi picked up a pair of apples in two games for the University of Michigan. Cecconi is once again manning his team’s top defensive pairing alongside Vancouver Canucks 2018 first-rounder Quinn Hughes in what will be his fourth and final NCAA season.
Jake Oettinger is off to a rough start in his third season with Boston University, going 0-3 with a nasty looking 0.866 save percentage so far. He was pulled in Saturday’s game after allowing three goals on 17 shots.
Brett Davis scored goals in both Friday and Saturday’s games for the Kootenay Ice, while also extending his point streak to four games. He’s now up to 10 points in seven games and is averaging just under five shots per contest.
Ty Dellandrea scored his third goal of the year for Flint (which, to be fair, came on a fluke play when an opposing defender scored on his own net) and added an assist. However, the woeful Firebirds are still searching for their first win of the season, with a record of 0-11-0. Dellandrea continue to play a lot of minutes for Flint and sits in the top 10 of the OHL in terms of face-offs taken.
Liam Hawel opened his season with a seven-game point streak before being held off the score sheet in his next four games. He did, however, pick up an assist on Sunday in a 5-2 win over fellow Stars’ prospect Riley Damiani and the Kitchener Rangers.
Jacob Peterson notched a goal and an assist in a pair of games for Bjorkloven, putting him at three goals now on the season. He might be a bit of a long shot, but keep an eye on Peterson over the next two months as a potential addition to Sweden’s roster for the World Juniors.
Goaltender Markus Ruusu stopped 19 of 20 shots in his only start last week to record his second win of the season for HIFK in the Liiga.